Why I need to thank The Apprentice

The class of 2017 tackle commercial photography, with unimpressive results.

It’s a funny thing, being a professional commercial photographer in Lancashire. Tell someone you’re a plumber, or a tree surgeon, a florist or a graphic designer and the response is typically “I’ve got a pipe/tree/event/logo you could help me with”.

But tell them you’re a photographer and often the response is “we don’t use professional photographers. Well, iPhones are so good these days aren’t they?”

As a corporate photographer in Lancashire, I often seem to have to justify my industry in a way that others don’t. But just occasionally, you see something that reminds you (and everyone else) that there’s more to commercial photography than knowing which end of the camera to point at people.

You’re fired
Last week’s The Apprentice saw the teams attempt to make money from doggy day care. One of their tasks was photography, and one team was asked to produce imagery for a campaign featuring dogs and their owners, with a slogan clearly visible on the t-shirts the owners were wearing.

In true Apprentice style, the team immediately ignored this instruction and simply took some shots of dogs and their owners with a decent SLR camera. I won’t get snippy about the technical quality of the shots – to my knowledge, no one on either team is an actual professional photographer.

It was the subject matter that was the problem. You see, non-professionals tend to shoot what looks great. What’s fun. What grabs the eye. They tend not to shoot with purpose – and the purpose in this case was to clearly show the wording on the t-shirts. As not a single shot did this adequately, they didn’t receive their full fee.

Sticking to the brief
In ten minutes or so, the Apprentice audience gained a short insight into the life of the professional photographer. Of course, professional corporate photography is about capturing great imagery. But it’s about doing that whilst hitting each element of the brief – and sometimes there can be lots of distinct elements.

And if you don’t deliver, you don’t get paid.

So thank you to the BBC for showing that there’s far more to professional photography than perhaps first meets the eye.

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